Kokedama Forest

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Kokedama Forest, the latest project by Nomad Studio, an internationally awarded landscape architecture and design studio, has surprised the crowds during the opening weekend at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2021, the most reputed horticulture and gardening event held in the United States.

The ephemeral installation, a 1000 SQF miniature sculptural forest consisting of more than 1200 forestry seedling kokedamas nested within an inverted dome carved out from a fragile and intricate metal network, has received exceptional recognition from both the audience and the organization, being honored with a total of three awards: The Gold Medal, The Governor’s Trophy for the Landscape major exhibit that demonstrates most innovative or unique design and the Special Achievement Award of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania.

A sustainable installation with a second life

As part of the project philosophy, after its run in the Philadelphia Flower Show, ending on June 13, Kokedama Forest will have a second life becoming a part of the collection at NorthPark Center in Dallas, Texas.

In regards to the hundreds of native seedlings currently on display, they will be adopted by Tyler Arboretum, located in the heart of Delaware County, a historical organization whose mission is to preserve, enhance, and share their heritage, collections, and landscapes, to create and inspire stewards of the natural world.

An important reflection about soil dwellers

This second act of Kokedama Forest is just as important as its initial installation at the Philadelphia Flower Show since it completes the life cycle of the sculptural micro-woodland. With Kokedama Forest, William E. Roberts and Laura Santín, founding partners of Nomad Studio, make a visual reflection upon the hidden importance of soil dwellers and how their indissoluble partnership with plants creates a suitable habitat for all of us. “The generosity of NorthPark Center, Tyler Arboretum and the rest of the collaborators that will host Kokedama Forest assures that the narrative of the project continues to inspire people to reflect upon its message.”

During their visit, guests have been welcomed to enter the micro-woodland and be surrounded by the levitating kokedamas: hundreds of seedlings proudly displaying their intimate relationship with soil supported by a 7.5 feet high three-dimensional metal structure. This assemblage has been woven with steel inviting the contradictory blend of strength and delicacy that is implicit in all living networks.

With this stimulating sculptural micro-forest, Nomad focuses on the fact that soil is one of the key habitats of the planet which too often is undervalued despite being indispensable.

Kokedamas as a symbol of the relationship between plants and soil

Kokedamas (*) are a poetic materialization of the intimate relationship between soil and plants, an inspiring blend of nature and art.

Nomad has found in Kazumi Garden, a family business that is at the forefront of the art of kokedamas in the United States, the perfect ally to hand craft the 1200 kokedamas that are part of the ephemeral installation. “Kazumi’s respect and craftsmanship, as well as their commitment with beauty demonstrated both in their daily work and with the installation, make Kazumi’s family an indispensable part of Kokedama Forest, without which it would not be possible”, in the words of Nomad.

Similarly, Nomad counted on Timber Forge Woodworks, the custom design and craft fabrication workshop responsible for the fabrication of the metal structure. “We always want our work to feel like it has a story to tell, and Kokedama Forest is an incredibly compelling way to communicate the importance of respecting the world around us, as well as underneath of us,” said Timber Forge co-founder Louie Andracchio. “The Nomad team’s vision for melding natural sculptures with man-made structures in an immersive experience makes you truly feel that people, plants, and the earth we all share, need each other to thrive.”

Finally, Nomad has collaborated with Pinelands Nursery, specialist in native plants for reforestation, which have supplied the autochthonous forestry seedlings.

(*) Kokedama. Kokedamas have their origins in Japan. In the Japanese language, kokedama translates to moss-ball, koke- meaning “moss” and dama- meaning “ball”.

Project details

Design: Nomad Studio
Project Location: Philadelphia Flower Show, FDR Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Typology: Ephemeral garden
Built: 2021
Partners: Kazumi Garden / Timber Forge Woodworks / Precision Signs and Labels / Pinelands Nursery
Photo credits:  © Nomad Studio

Nomad Studio

Nomad Studio

Nomad Studio, founded in 2009 by William E. Roberts and Laura Santín, is an internationally awarded creative workshop devoted to innovative site-specific projects. Its work explores the interaction between art and landscape and its influence on society and environment. More than just a name, Nomad is a philosophy of itinerant life and work through which they have taken on relevant projects worldwide for more than a decade.